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The Elephanta Caves

The Elephanta Caves , located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri, about 11 Km off the coast of the Gateway of India, Mumbai, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to these caves, excavated probably in the 6 th century CE, is awe-inspiring, and also thought-provoking. Over the years, I have visited the caves a number of times, and also attended a number of talks by experts in the fields of art, history and archaeology on the caves. Together, they help me understand these caves, their art, and the people they were created for, just a little bit better. Every new visit, every new talk, every new article I read about the caves, fleshes out the image of what the island and the caves would have been like, at their peak. I last wrote about the caves on this blog, in 2011, almost exactly 11 years ago. Since then, my understanding of the caves has, I would like to think, marginally improved. Hence this attempt to write a new and updated post, trying to bring to life, the caves of Elephan

Around Tirupati - Chandragiri

On our ten day Tirupati visit, we visited temples galore, waterfalls, museums, a zoo and even a science centre! The last place we visited was a fort, to round it off, so to speak! I would call the Chandragiri fort more of a palace than a fort, and that too, a rather simple palace, on the whole.

Layout of the Chandragiri Fort

According to Wikipedia, Chandragiri was built by the Yadava Rayas in the 11th century, and they ruled it for over three centuries. It then came under the control of the Vijayanagara rulers, who moved here when the Golconda attacked their capital at Penukonda. It was annexed by the Golconda sultans in 1646, and finally came under the rule of the kings of Mysore. Around the end of the eighteenth century, the fort was abandoned, and it sunk into oblivion.

Raja Mahal

The main structure here is the Raja Mahal, literally the king’s palace. Compared to some other palaces I have seen, this was quite simple, and is now used as a museum, housing various artifacts found in the fort as well as the surrounding areas. As usual, Samhith and I were drawn towards the various models of temples, forts and museums, which is what I shall always remember. We especially loved the model of the Gudimallam temple and lingam, as well as the model of the entire Chandragiri fort.

The only other structure in this complex is the Rani Mahal, the queen’s palace, which was even simpler than the Raja Mahal, so we just had a look from outside. Apart from this, there are only huge lawns where the crowds come to have a picnic and a too small lake where people go boating. Of course, Samhith wanted to go boating at once, but the lake was so small, that I was afraid we would get dizzy, and stayed away from it!

The fort complex is maintained by the ASI, which has done a pretty good job of popularizing the places it maintains by putting up huge boards, but none of the staff have any information about the places they are (supposedly) popularizing! Neither do any of them have any information, but the ASI book store has books about all kinds of places, except this one or the locations mentioned on the boards! It’s a pity to see the people who are in charge of our historic monuments.

Rani Mahal

More interesting was the drive through the narrow lanes of the erstwhile fort, along the remnants of the outer and inner walls. There are a few temples around, which were once inside the fort, but there is just one where prayers are still conducted, and it was closed. It was fun, though, to listen to our auto driver who acted as our guide and described how traitors were taken up to the peak of the hill and then thrown down from there… that triggered off Samhith’s imagination, which turned out to be not-so-funny after all! There are a few people who trek up the hill… that must be interesting, I felt, but since I am not the trekking kind, it is something I have to wait for someone else to try and write about…so that I can experience it second-hand!

ASI Board about other monuments

Incidentally, the second walking path to Tirumala – the Srivari Mettu – starts near the fort. Again, from what the driver told us, the path was made for the royal family to visit the temple, a kind of private walkway!

Here are some more images of the fort and its surroundings.....

A dilapidated temple..........

One of the gates - the inner wall, with a rickshaw coming through......

The same, by itself... which pic is better????

One of the hills with some structures atop it.....

The source of our driver's stories - it does look like the kind of place people would be pushed from.. don't you think so?

Another structure... there are steps to reach this place! See, there is a person up there!

Another gate - this time the outer wall.

A close-up..

Samhith peeping though the closed temple....


Chandragiri fort is about 12 Km from Tirupati, from where frequent buses are available.

There is a sound and light show every evening, from 6:30 PM  to 7:15 PM in Telugu and from 7:30 PM to 8:15 PM in English. The charge is Rs. 30 for adults and Rs. 20 for children.

This was something I wanted to attend, but I was informed that the show wouldn’t take place if it rained in the evening. Since it rained almost continuously during my stay, this turned out to be impossible. So there is one more thing for me to look forward to, when I visit Tirupati next!


  1. the monuments looks so well-kept, clean! Wish Delhi also follows the example

  2. Wow, interesting place..i've not even heard of it... should check it out!
    The gates reminded me of Hampi- style of architecture i guess!!
    Anu- u've got a lot of patience..hats off lady.. writing a detailed post about every place you visit, giving us treats everyday... i wish i had half your patience to write blog posts :)

  3. I dont now if my comment got registered,had some problems
    . Happy new year to all .

  4. @Delhizen: the monuments are indeed quite well kept, but here, there wasnt much to keep unlike the monuments in delhi, and neither were there crowds, which i guess are the main problems there!!

    @Chitra: they are beautiful, but really simple palaces!

    @Team G square: you guys will love it.. theres lot to explore!

  5. is very intresting and good historical place,Yadav Rajas Fort,,,,Chadragiri.

  6. Dear Madam, I am from Tirupati. The auto-driver was partly right when he said that executions happened atop the hill. But the convicts were apparently executed by hanging. The granite structure you see in the picture above('filename: picture 569') is the suspension platform. This is the folklore in the area, not sure how true this could be. The place is a vantage position, in the sense the town public gets a view of the execution hence serving as a deterrent.So,I personally think there could be truth in this.

    Thanks for a detailed post on Chandragiri/Tirupati. :)

  7. Dear Madam, I am from Tirupati. The auto driver was partly correct, when he said that executions happened atop the hill. However, the mode was different. Convicts were hanged atop the hill. The granite structure you see in the image above (file: 'picture 529') is the suspension platform.

    The location of the hanging platform is in full view of the town. I have personally seen this from different locations in changdragiri. Given that there is no big structure in between, the execution is visible to a radius of almost 2 km. The logic behind this could be to do the execution in full-view of the public and this served as an effective deterrent for other offenders. This is the folklore in the area, not really sure how true this could be.

    Regards, Prasad.


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